Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Unique Interview on How to Repair Music Boxes and Other Mechanical Collectibles part 2

Copyright 2006 Monique Hawkins

Ballerina Music Boxes, inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, cylinder music boxes, and antique music boxes are delicate and beautiful. As most music box and antique collectors know, in order to preserve them, sometimes repair and restoration is needed.  For this special work, it is important to choose a company that is reputable and an expert in this area. This is the second part of an interview with music box and mechaical insturment repair and restoration expert, Mr. Jim Weir

Jim does all kinds of antique musical box repairs and restoration. His work includes comb repairs, releading and tuning, dampering, cylinder repairing, and organ bridge work. Jim also offers all manner of musical box work on disc and cylinder music boxes..Let's listen as he continues to give us an inside peek of this unique business.

6. What if your least favorite part of running your business? Your favorite part?

"Paperwork. Dealing with taxes and Customs (although I've got quite good dealing with Customs and Carriers). My favorite part? There is a satisfaction in finally getting a job finished; there's also a fair amount of satisfaction in finally getting paid."

7. What are some of your favorite music box and collectible pieces and why?

"A 26" consul model Stella. It belonged to the late Bruce Devine and literally arrived in pieces (it had been dropped from a crane while being loaded). Originally Bruce gave it to one of my trade customers, who passed it on to me. Then my trade customer ducked out of the deal, and I ended up working direct for Bruce. It was an `interesting' experience and quite a steep learning curve. At the end though, the box did sound good. Excellent tune arrangements."

8. Is there any interesting history associated with some of your pieces?

"I don't collect musical boxes; without being funny I genuinely cannot afford to. Some of the pieces I've worked on have had `history'; as an example the Stella referred to above. Another would be a rare long and short pin Forte-Piano box (maker unknown) I overhauled for a customer in France. It had a silver presentation plaque in the lid; as far as I could gather it was presented to a Mayor in 1847 for some kind of `service to the townspeople'. I'm not up on French politics, but the middle of the 19th century were turbulent times. One of the nicest stories is a box I fully restored for an old lady in Edinburgh. She was in her 70's. The box had been in her family since new, and she had last heard it play when she was a child."

9. What important advice or tips would you give to someone who would like to start a business such as yours either online or offline?

"I wouldn't. Things move faster now that we have the Internet. To get fully involved in this kind of work takes time, which the whole `I want it NOW' approach of the Internet doesn't favor. I was lucky in that I had a skill with clocks that I was able to sharpen and direct to music box work. If I had to give advice, I'd say by all means get involved with music boxes, or whatever else begins to drive you, but try to maintain a backup. The wisest thing? Learn that `quitting' is not necessarily a personal failure; it's recognizing that some choices can turn out to be wrong. There are maybe a few music box repairers who would be happier now if, 30 years ago, they'd sold their lathes, workshop tools etc. and taken up farming. Not me though, I hasten to add."

10. For those antique and music box collectors looking to find valuable and interesting pieces for their own collections, where would you suggest they go either online or offline? How about those who are just starting a collection?

"Take advice from your friends. Don't necessarily follow it, but give it some thought. Subscribe to music box sale catalogues, it's a good way to check what things actually sell for; they often give the hammer price of items from previous sales. Go to music box auctions if you can; not necessarily to buy anything but to observe, to get a feel not just for how much pieces sell for, but for what sells and what doesn't. Try to figure out why what looked like a nice box didn't sell. If you're really interested in buying a specific musical box, either from a dealer, private seller or at auction it can save you a lot of heartache if you get someone who knows what they're looking at to check the box over and advise you of likely repair costs before you buy it. A lot of repair costs can be itemized; if a potential customer emailed or wrote to me (even `phoned me) with a good description of a box needing repair, I would do my best to advise them as to how much the repairs could cost before they part up with maybe a lot of money to buy it. I don't charge for this and neither do most restorers; having given advice we all hope for the work if the customer goes on and buys the box. If the box is a particularly fine example, and likely to be expensive to buy, it's can be worth paying a restorers time for them to go and check it out at the sellers address. I've done this; a collector armed with an itemized potential repair cost of something he's interested in buying is in a very strong position when it comes to arguing the sale price with the seller".

Jim ends with saying this about his hopes for the future:

"To bring in more work and pay off the mortgage. Ok, there's a lot more to life than that but one way or another, the bills still have to be paid. Most of my work to now has come from dealers; what I'm hoping is that by advertising in the MBSI Journal, I'll attract more work direct from the public.  In theory I could put up my public prices, but in practice I cannot, at least not to customers in the USA. They already have to pay shipping costs, and the simple fact is that whether a musical box needs comb work, cylinder work or a full restoration, there's a top limit to how much most people will pay to have it worked on, irrespective of how long the work takes. People have to make choices; your car's broke, your washing machine leaks and the antique music box you inherited from your Grandmother squeaks. Which one do you spend your money on?  That's about it really; the sun's shining and it's time to get back to the workshop."

I'd like to personally thank Jim for taking the time to share with us this valuable information about his business as well as letting us get a sneak peak into the world of music box repairs and restoration. Jim Weir can be reached at or by telephone/fax at 01144-1575-572647.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

A Unique Interview on How to Repair Music Boxes and Other Mechanical Collectibles

Copyright 2006 Monique Hawkins

Ballerina Music Boxes, inlaid music boxes, musical jewelry boxes, cylinder music boxes, and antique music boxes are delicate and beautiful. As most music box and antique collectors know, in order to preserve them, sometimes repair and restoration is needed.  For this special work, it is important to choose a company that is reputable and an expert in this area. With a little research, these companies usually can be found no matter what part of the world you are in. One such company and expert is Mr. Jim Weir.

Jim does all kinds of antique musical box repairs and restoration. His work includes comb repairs, releading and tuning, dampering, cylinder repairing, and organ bridge work. Jim also offers all manner of musical box work on disc and cylinder music boxes.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jim about his musical box repair and restoration business, which, by the way, is operated out of Scotland. Let's discover more about Jim; his hopes, and get an in depth look as to what it is like to operate a music box repair and restoration business.

Jim started off with saying this about himself:

"What can I tell you about myself? Well, I'm 56 and have been working on musical boxes for the best part of 30 years. My wife and I live in Scotland with our two daughters; one's at school and one's at University. Depending on workload my wife and both daughters help with pinning cylinders; I guess it's a family business really?"

1. Could you describe your online and offline business operations, your services and/or products in detail?

"I've used the Internet to find workshop supplies, including the machine I use for grinding and finishing repined music box cylinders. Other than that, my business is primarily offline. Most of it comes to me from people who already know me, although I've recently started advertising in the MBSI Journal. I hardly ever buy and sell musical boxes; I have a good workshop but not a retail shop or display counter. I have checked out potential purchases for customers, telling them what level of repair work they are likely to get into before they buy a specific musical box, and where a customer is looking for a particular type of box I've sometimes been able to find one, but other than that my main business is repair work, everything from full restoration to part jobs, particularly comb and cylinder work. I've got a very good team of pinners (the people who put the new pins into the cylinders for me to finish) and after advertising in the MBSI Journal, I'm beginning to pick up new individual work from customers in the USA as well as my regular trade work."

2. What made you decide to start a business specializing in antique musical box repairs and restoration? What was your inspiration or motivation?

"I trained as a clock repairer. One day a customer brought in a 15.1/2" Polyphon and asked me to `fix it'. That's where it started."

3. What have been your major challenges/obstacles over the years? How did you overcome them? "

To reverse your question, I'm still trying to figure out how to overcome them. My worst problem, or `obstacle' if you like has been myself. Some of the work I've done has been fairly intense; taking it on as if it were some kind of personal challenge has not perhaps been the wisest thing to do. I'm largely self-taught, and I'm not a good teacher, or a particularly good pupil come to that."

4. What specific types of online or offline marketing tools are you using successfully?

"I'm not sure how successful it will be; it's early days yet but I've just started to advertise in the MBSI Journal. I've picked up a couple of jobs that way. I don't advertise anywhere else, and I don't use any online marketing tools"

5. Have you always envisioned yourselves doing what you are doing now? Has it always been a passion? What did you "want to be when you grew up?

"No I've not. When I was at school, I wanted to be a train driver. Musical box work has become a passion though; trying to get the best possible sound out of a musical box is part of what drives me."

JIm will continue to give us an inside peek of the music box repair and restoration world in part 2 of this article series.

I'd like to personally thank Jim for taking the time to share with us this valuable information about his business as well as letting us get a sneak peak into the world of music box repairs and restoration. Jim Weir can be reached at or by telephone/fax at 01144-1575-572647.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Alexander Lunev - The Precursor Of New-Wave Music

Alexander Lunev is a rising star of the music industry and is one of today's most talented, versatile and consistent hit composers. Not surprisingly, he has worked so successfully with many high-profile stars with mega-hit status.  He not only established himself as a prolific composer, musician, but also as a star producer in his own right!

Widely regarded as a composer of immense talents and variations, Alexander Lunev caught the imagination of the world by collaborating with award winning Russian pop star "Five Stars" and Dima Koldun.

Only recently, Alexander wrote a brilliant song entitled "Lilac Flowers" for the super Russian pop-diva Sofia Rotaru, and another song for a tremendously talented and world-renown Russian singer, the dashing and sexy Nicolai Baskov.

Having rocked the Russian music industry in 2006 when he received the "Best Russian Act" nomination for RMA (Regional Music Awards) at MTV's 13th annual European Music Awards held in Copenhagen on November 2nd 2006, Alexander Lunev is going strength-to-strength in challenging his own high standards of music.

Lunev's song "Never Let You Go" was brilliantly portrayed by Dima at the Euro vision 2006 and became a runaway hit. The song was bestowed with MTV Russian Music Awards 2006 Best Composition. Some of the other top-shelf songs composed by the legend himself include "Through The Eyes Of The Eagle", "Following the Trail", "Above the Ocean", "Drowning Man", "Return to the Heavens", "Never Let You Go", and "Lady Flame".

Alexander's composition talent has taken him places. His songs have been performed at places like Los Angeles historic Wilshire Ebell Concert Hall, San Francisco's pride Palace of Fine Arts, besides New York and Miami.

Alexander is also involved with composing music for the movies. The Russian movie "Frenchman" includes Lunev's two masterful compositions. Alex has shown tremendous interest in diversifying his music vision by writing and producing the rock-opera "Prodigal Son", based on classical evangelic texts.

After remaining unsigned with any major recording label in his initial months of glory, Alex has established his own production company in June 2007. Aptly named, ‘Columbus, Lunev's new venture has signed hot and happening Dima Koldun of Euro vision ’07 fame. Dima, the 22 years old from Belarus, is a nominee for MTV's Russian Music Awards 2007, besides finishing at 6th place in Euro vision ’07. Dima recently recorded Lunev's song "I am for you", which is already creating waves among music enthusiasts

Alex's talents got a special recognition from the organizers of "Five Stars". This prestigious Russian music contest was held in the city of Sochi during September 5 - 8 2007 and Lunev was one of the five judges to pick the winner who will declare open the Winter Olympics at Sochi in 2014. This contest offers a great opportunity to the participants to display their musical talent that has remained untapped so far. Besides, the contest also serves as a fishing pond for the top producers, record labels, agents and media, including Channel 1, MTV, Europe +, and Russian Radio.

The depth of Lunev's compositions has made him an instant hit among all age groups of people. However, teenagers and youth have lapped up the new-wave music with both hands. But there's more good news in the offing! Alexander Lunev is not yet satisfied with his achievements. He wants to compose music that everyone can enjoy for long times to come. And considering his oozing potential, the "ageless" music is not something beyond Lunev's capabilities. In fact, Alex is already on the job to compose the music that redefines every contemporary boundary in the music world.

A Toy Music Box Is A Toy For Life

Music box collectors and enthusiasts often have a wide variety of music boxes in their collections. Some collectors may prefer music boxes that play wonderful music, while others might opt for those that provide an ornate home to jewelry and family heirlooms. But what we often forget when discussing music boxes is that nearly all of us have been touched by their song at one time or another. There are many children’s toys that have an almost universal appeal and presence; teddy bears, a baby doll, toy cars, and yes, a toy music box too.

Every day millions of babies are lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of a music box. And every day many of those same babies wake up to play with a toy music box. Whether it is a Jack-In-The-Box whose song is a precursor to him springing from his box, or a stuffed toy that is wound up and plays a lullaby, music boxes become part of our lives at the earliest of ages.

Older children have strong ties to music boxes as well. Many girls enjoy a toy music box in the form of a music jewelry box that opens to reveal more than just jewelry. Maybe the most popular toy music box for girls is the ballerina music box which opens to display the performance of a ballerina, or maybe an ice skater, who twirls gracefully across a stage of mirrored glass. Boys, on the other hand, might be more familiar with a toy music box that displays circling airplanes, trains, or cars instead of a dancing or skating performer. Of course, there are countless versions of the toy music box that we all remember, regardless of our gender. Toy clocks, radios, televisions, records players, and CD players, all of them have taken the form of a music box and have provided hours of fun to countless children.

As adults many of us still have an interest in toy music boxes. Whether it is a musical snow globe, a souvenir from a vacation, or even the music boxes that we enjoyed in our youth, for many a toy music box is something that stays with us for a lifetime.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Top Free Music Download Site Review

This article gives a review of a top free music download site. There are so many dubious music sites on the Internet, and so I offer to you a site that has given me great success.

When you decide that its time to download music off the Internet, it can be a complete nightmare when starting to look.

The issue of downloading illegal music makes the situation even worse, and so you are left in the dark and end up either not downloading any music, or spending money on several different sites hoping that they will fit your needs.

We are all aware of the major music download sites, such as Napster and iTunes which are the sites that pop into your head when you think of downloading music, but there are many other sites out there that give you the same choice and quality at a much cheaper price, or even for free.
This is because those companies are smaller, with fewer overheads and advertising costs and therefore they can afford to lower their prices and achieve a competitive advantage over the major players.

In fact, many of these cheaper sites only charge a one-off small time fee and from there you can download as much free music as you wish. There are no restrictions on the volume of music that you can download or on the speed at which you download.

These sites give you almost unlimited freedom.

On the other hand, the well-known sites that I mentioned earlier often charge you per song, which can mount up to a serious amount of money (almost the same as buying a CD in a shop), and also they have restrictions on download speeds and volumes which can be extremely frustrating; especially when you have paid a decent amount of money.

You might be asking yourselves why the big brand name companies charge more than these other sites and I have been pondering this for a long time.

I think it maybe due to the fact that these companies are so well-known, and they are aware of this. Consequently, they are confident that the majority of people looking for a music download service will come to them, and pretty much only them because of the trust people have for a brand.

Through knowing this, they realize they can charge a little extra than others without losing much custom.

We all know that brands are more expensive than non-brand items and most of the time non-brand items are of the same or even higher quality.

For example, when I go to the supermarket, there are certain products that I buy which are non-branded; not solely because I want to save money, but because I know that this certain product is of the same quality if not higher quality. Therefore, in this case why not save?

I have come across a free music download site that has been positively reviewed by many happy customers. It offers you an alarming range of mp3s to download from, up to 14 million in fact.

Furthermore, the speed at which you download the music is lightening and there are no download limits. If you wish to burn the music onto a CD then if offers you this option, and if you ever get stuck there is free 24 hour support so no need to panic if you are not a computer wiz!

If you check the sites ranking on you will see that it comes in the top 11,000 most popular sites in the world. Personally I find this extremely impressive for just a music download site, especially when Napster is ranked in the 50,000s.

This traffic knowledge for me reinforces that it is a creditable site.

In my experience, I have had great success in this site and to be honest it is a hidden gem. Even the quality of the music is of the highest caliber and so I highly recommend this to you.

I know how frustrating it can be to find an honest site, and so I hope I have relieved a little of the pain of searching around and looking through reviews.

If you do not find the site to your liking, you are more than entitled to a refund so really there is not much to lose. I hope this article has been informative to you, and good luck in finding a free music download site.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

A Study In Banjo Lessons

Ah, I remember the good old days when I had my first banjo lesson. Actually, it wasn’t exactly my first lesson. I had been using the internet to improve my “skill” for a while, and I was slightly conceited since I thought I had some idea about what I was doing. I watched videos of a real expert playing the banjo while the tabs were available as well. I learned a few songs and techniques that sounded interesting, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

When I had my first real lesson, it broke down all those illusions I had of being a decent player. I tried to show off, but as soon as his deep eyes met mine I missed a chord. It was my first time to ever play any instrument in front of anyone, and I didn’t think I would get nervous. After all, I’ve always been a gifted public speaker. The only one in the room was my teacher, and I was having a terrible time.

I’m having a hard time seeing my future in banjo playing, especially since I can’t even whack up the ginger to play something in front of my own teacher. He’s a nice guy, and he can play the banjo like no other. He’s already taught me several exercise I can use for my next lesson. It’s also a great experience just to watch him play, since his skill far outweighs mine. I just hope I will sound at least slightly more decent the next time I have a lesson.

But if I always freeze up when I try to play at my lessons, I’m worried that my instructor will never be able to give me the help I truly need. It’s impossible to get feedback and constructive criticism if everything I play is absolute garbage. I think I will start recording my lone practice and playing it back for him. Hopefully I won’t freeze up just knowing that he will be listening to it soon…

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

A Review Of Disney Channel's High School Musical

Disney Channel's High School Musical is one of the hottest movies ever offered up by Disney. Kids and teens love the singing and dancing of this fast paced movie and most watch it repeatedly. This movie can only be seen on the Disney Channel or on the DVD that has been released for home viewing. This must see film could easily become a family favorite in your home, from the very first time you watch it.

The plot of High School Musical is a traditional love story theme, as is popular in many teen movies. The popular school jock meets the new nerdy kid, while singing karaoke one night. They later star together in their high school's musical and fall in love. The sports elements, dancing, singing, and love interests give the movie an appeal to kids and teens of all ages and sexes.

Disney Channel's High School Musical is a film that parents can feel good about letting their children watch. Though there is a love story element, there is nothing that is obscene or age inappropriate in this movie. In a world where nearly every movie involves cursing, violence, and sex, High School Musical is a much needed breath of fresh air. Even the youngest members of the family can watch and enjoy the fun songs and talented dancers.

If you are looking for a great movie that your whole family can watch together, High School Musical is the perfect choice. Rent of buy this movie today, or catch it the next time it is shown on the Disney Channel. Everyone in your family will enjoy the story and singing and it will give your family a great chance to bond, as well. It is definitely time to plan a family movie night and get everyone together to enjoy a wholesome movie watching experience.